Graham Potter insisted that despite the death threats against him and his family, he had the resilience to see Chelsea through their difficult time at the moment.
On Friday, the manager revealed he had received the troubling news from an anonymous account via email as the backlash surrounding the team’s collapse escalated to alarming levels.
A streak of two wins from 14 games has lifted Chelsea to 10th in the league and Potter explained how the deteriorating relationship with parts of the Stamford Bridge support has affected his mental health.
He has been criticized for a perceived lack of passion on the touchline, including during last Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat by bottom side Southampton, in contrast to the exuberant style of Tottenham boss Antonio Conte, whose side face Chelsea on Sunday.
But Potter was defiant his style won’t change, pointing to the difficulties he endured in his first season at former club Brighton as proof he has what it takes to weather the storm.
“To get to this point you have to go through tough times,” he said. “Otherwise you can’t survive.
“That particular time at Brighton, my freshman year, when I adopted the style of play and tried to change the squad. Both of my parents have passed away. There were constant comparisons with my predecessor in the media.
“If you’re going to talk about how you can impact mental health, comparing you to someone else isn’t a good place to start.
“It was tough. Then we had Covid. That was a really difficult time. It was my first time in the Premier League and I had to prove myself.
“Maybe this time will allow me to get through this time or at least still behave. I’m still here, I’m still alive, I’ve survived crisis session after crisis session after crisis session. I’m still here, wow.
“It still matters to me, I still absolutely love it. It’s still wonderful. I still see the challenge. I still see how grateful I am to be in this position as you guys have these conversations. It’s brilliant, but there will be tough times.”
Chelsea have offered Potter any support he feels he needs following the threats against his family, while the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust said it was “appalled” and would “support any further investigation”.
A statement said: “The actions of these individuals are disgusting and they do not represent Chelsea FC fans. No manager and his family should be subjected to such threats – we are deeply disappointed.”
The team are looking to end a four-game winless streak in the league to reignite tenuous hopes of progressing into the top four of the Premier League and the manager are close to having a full squad to choose from amid the injury crisis that struck in January.
Only N’Golo Kante, Christian Pulisic and captain Cesar Azpilicueta remain unavailable to the Spurs.
Their opponents will remain without coach Antonio Conte, who continues his rehabilitation after gallbladder surgery, with his assistant Christian Stellini replacing him.
Potter held up the Tottenham manager as an example of the benefits of allowing managers to be true to their personalities and urged fans to give him the same freedom.
“The best person to be Antonio Conte is Antonio Conte,” he said. “The best person to be Graham Potter is Graham Potter. Everyone is different. I don’t think he was wrong, he’s just himself. You can’t help who you are.
“It’s not nice when people start criticizing you for being you. I can’t help but be me. And it has served me quite well. As much as Antonio has had an amazing career – and I have great respect for him as a coach and as a man – I started out in the ninth tier of English football.
“It’s not that easy to get to this point. You have to have some staying power, you have to have some passion and some emotion. You have to have some courage.”
Potter said he’s been contacted by Conte in the past for advice on how to deal with management pressures.
He added: “I think (Conte’s message) was about doing your best today and not necessarily thinking too much about the future or the past.
“He sent that in a WhatsApp message. I think that’s when they hit us. He didn’t text when we hit her.”